Graham Reid | | 1 min read
No, this isn't here just so we can display the striking cover of the former Mrs Miles Davis looking like some astral traveller from Ziggy Stardust's planet.
In fact this is something of lost soul-funk classic from '74 from a period of skin-tight silver pants, sky-high heels on the dancefloor and shoulder-wide Afros.
In her own way Davis -- formerly Betty Mabry -- was well ahead of her time and in his autobiography Miles credits her with turning him on to rock music in the late 60s, and introducing him to Jimi Hendrix. He wrote Back Seat Betty about her.
"If Betty were singing today," he said in '89, "she'd be something like Madonna; something like Prince, but a woman."
Certainly a lot here comes straight outta the Sly Stone/P-Funk/blaxploitation territory and her raunchy, sultry, and sometimes croaking voice rides these bass-heavy grooves with utter self-confidence.
Santana made the Madonna connection too, but added, "Madonna is more like Marie Osmond comapred to Betty Davis. Betty was a real ferocious, Black Panther woman. She was indomitable, you couldn't tame Betty Davis."
Others have seen her as the prototype for Macy Gray and women rappers.
Maybe this is just a period-piece.
But what a period.
And what a piece.
(This excellent reissue comes with four bonus tracks and with a booklet which contains a lengthy essay about Mabry/Davis. It follows the similarly repackaged reissue of her self-titled album from '73 which she recorded with Sly Stone's rhythm section and had the Pointer Sisters on backing vocals.)